Riyadh, March 8, 2020
Saudi state media on Sunday released footage and photographs of King Salman taken during the swearing in of two new ambassadors to Ukraine and Uruguay.
The move appears to be aimed at dispelling rumours swirling on social media that suggested the monarch’s health was deteriorating.
The footage and photographs carried by the official Saudi Press Agency showed the 84-year-old king getting up from a seated position to shake the hands of the two new envoys after they took their oaths.
Rumours about the king’s bad health spread after a Wall Street Journal report on Friday suggested Saudi authorities had detained two of the kingdom’s most prominent royals after an alleged coup attempt.
Masked guards from the royal court reportedly arrested Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the brother of King Salman, and his nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, also known as MBN.
Citing sources familiar with the situation, the report said the men were accused of treason and plotting a coup to unseat the king and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The guards also arrested one of MBN’s brothers.
In a follow up report on Saturday, the U.S. newspaper suggested that the crown prince had widened the crackdown to include dozens of interior ministry officials and senior army officers suspected of supporting the coup.
King Salman ceded most of his power to his son, the crown prince, in 2017.
That same year, dozens of Saudi royals, former state officials and influential businessmen were rounded up in an anti-corruption sweep.
The prince stands accused of orchestrating the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul and an ongoing clampdown on dissidents and activists.